Lying beyond the capabilities of a platform engineering that acts as an interface between developers and the underlying cloud infrastructure, is something that makes it very hard to develop: the human factor. This is the one factor that will dictate how much of a buy-in, a platform engineering will get, both from stakeholders and users. It’s a completely different problem statement compared to a platform’s technical aspect, but something that could be coupled.
In a sense, a platform engineering is trying to systemize human-to-human interaction, to create a set of repeatable standard to create a scalable engineering practice. Hence, it can already be seen that this is one area that has to be well covered in order for a platform to be succeed. By saying human factor, these are the things that should be reflected in the product:
- Organization structure
- Different concerns for different roles
- Task delegation to enable chain of commands
- Team and individual workflow
Embedding these aspects will help a platform to be a better intermediary, putting it into a better position to replace what used to be a manual work that involves inter-human trust. But this will definitely require huge level of understanding of how a team and its members work. Some level of empathy is required from the platform builder.
Tactically speaking, these are some of the steps that a platform builder can go through in order to fulfill its human factor:
- Discover how a team works, including individual level concerns (if any)
- Address current gaps that can be answered via platform
- Measure adoption of the solution
- Measure overall impact from the solution, especially towards achieving productivity
Taking the above steps will help a platform to get buy in from its users and by measuring it against the overall impact, will help gaining better confidence from stakeholders.
Of course, this can also be interpreted that different organization will require different taste of a platform, depending on how the team actually works. As a consequence, starting from a common developer pain point or addressing specific business need, can be strategic approach to gain good adoption of the platform. Then it’s a matter of iterating to solve more human problem.